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Avoid these common website mistakes.

Your "net" has holes in it. It's a shame. You fish all day. Your catch could be so much greater.

Business today can seem complex, but it's mainly just different. Heck, it's even easier in some respects. Learn the rules and how to play the game, and you can find success.

* Broaden awareness of your firm and its offerings.

* Control and mold your brand.

* Open your storefront to the entire world.

More and more people are finding what they want on the Web. Does your company appear high in the ranking for keywords people use to find products and services you provide? If so, does your website efficiently convert visits into dollars?

Odds are the mistakes you make are also made by others, so we interviewed two experts on Internet marketing and website optimization--Steven Schneiderman of Schneiderman Marketing, LLC and Matt Bailey of SiteLogic. Here's what they said.

Mistake #1: Failure to Focus on the Fundamentals.

The fundamental building blocks of website marketing are architecture, content and incoming links. It's a waste of time and money for a company to work on other things until these are done well. This is because website marketing is about getting ranked high when people type certain keywords or phrases into search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, and three things drive the rankings: architecture, content and incoming links.

Mistake #2: Design for Visual Appeal Rather Than SEO and User-Friendliness.

The #1 objective is to design the site so your target audience can quickly and easily find your site, locate what they want in your site, and quickly and easily purchase, subscribe, etc. So the site must first be built for this purpose. The "look" should be addressed once SEO (search engine optimization), functionality and user-friendliness are secured.

Mistake #3: Use Your Own Lingo Instead of Your Customer's.

Your website mission is to set up your site so people searching for things you offer will quickly and easily find you (i.e., your site). It begins when people think about what they want and then type their words into a search engine such as Google. So you better set up your site to respond to the words that searchers use (i.e., type into a Web browser). Refer to your products or services (on your site) as something other than what searchers use, and your customers will never find you.

Mistake #4: No Website Strategy.

What is it you want to accomplish with your site? Visitors don't really do anything for you. You want sales. Or information that will help you get sales. Visitors who come and go without buying something or giving you information you can use in the future do nothing for you. So what is the highest-value action that visitors to your site could take? The second-highest? Third? These should be the goals of your site. Everything you do should further the site's effectiveness at gaining relevant visitors and getting them to take the actions you desire.

Mistake #5: Confusing Site Navigation.

Spend extra time organizing your content into a logical and intuitive structure. The primary navigation is usually found at the top or to the side of the content and should outline the 4 to 10 main sections of your site. You can then have smaller groups of pages within. The secondary navigation will include contact information, "about us," copyright and privacy policy, and is always found at the bottom of the page. The navigation should be the same on every page. Don't forget to link the logo back to the home page, usually found in the top left corner of the page. It is also a good practice to use a breadcrumb trail so users know where they are at all times.

Mistake #6: No Lead Capture.

Every website should capture, at a minimum, the first name and email address of as many visitors as possible. The reason is that you need a prospect list. A mail list for future marketing efforts. Building yours should be among the most important focuses of your website. The best way is to integrate this is with an autoresponder. Use this service to generate your form's HTML code, manage your lists, personalize your email communications, and analyze the open and forward rates of all your email campaigns.

Mistake #7: Poor Use of Color.

The best way to choose a color palette is to examine your logo's colors and then extend them across the site, choosing light colors for page backgrounds and darker contrasting colors for body text and headlines. If possible, use a color wheel to analyze related colors, and remember to use plenty of white space to avoid a crowded look and feel.

Mistake #8: Poor Type Treatment.

If you have to squint, the type is too small. And too many different typefaces can also make a Web page challenging to read. Stick to one type family (e.g., Times Roman, Arial) and use 10 -12 points for the body text and 18-24 bold for headlines and section titles.

Mistake #9: Purposeless Social Media.

Social networking on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can play a role in creating awareness and building your brand, but until your site is optimized and you're "blocking and tackling" well, don't bother. Then begin blogging. Blogging is incredibly effective for creating awareness and it's search engine friendly. Finally, when you do enter the world of social media, network with a purpose. Decide on your voice, stay on topic and build your brand. And don't forget: You can't expect others to interact in your community if you don't interact in theirs.

Mistake #10: No Pictures or Videos.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Too much text is just plain boring. Whether you're selling a product or services, place interesting and attractive pictures on your site. Be sure at least a few are friendly and professional faces. Fill in the alternative text data field ("ALT Text") for each image so they'll be searchable and so if an image fails to load, the visitor will see a description of the image. Finally, professional photographers and videographers are well worth the investment.

Mistake #11: No Story.

Everyone loves a good story, so go beyond the facts and futures. Tell a story. Your goal should be to capture visitors quickly and entice them to lean in, learn more, and subscribe to your newsletter or contact you to learn more.


Mistake #12: Poor Prose, Typos.

Writing well is hard work. Proofing is tough as well. Work hard at your copy and have it edited and re-edited. Copy editors are not hard to find and are well worth the money.

Mistake #13: Out of Date.

Most companies will completely forget to update their website after initial launch. The content ages quickly and loses relevance. Product information becomes outdated and useless. People leave the company, but their profiles are not removed. Links to third-party sites get broken. Management of your website content is a critical part of your long-term marketing success. If your website has an intuitive content management system (CMS), push the responsibility for updating your website down to the lowest level of administrative help possible. Otherwise, assign the duty to a responsible marketing person and make him/her point person for all monthly updates across the company. And content that is removed from your site but not your server may remain searchable and findable by Web browsers.


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COPYRIGHT 2010 D.L. Perkins, LLC
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Publication:The Business Owner
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2010
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